Applying for Obamacare

Last month Time’s Joe Klein decried the Obama administration’s “incompetence” implementing Obamacare. This month Klein expressed relief in an “Exclusive” report.

In his “Exclusive” Klein praised the administration for streamlining the complex 21-page online Obamacare application to a mere three pages. Klein called it “a spiffy, new three-page application for individuals (find it here)” (footnote omitted). He added: “There will be a seven-page application for families (11 including the appendix), but even that one will be far better designed than the initial effort (find it here).”

Obama bragged about the new, improved version at his 100-days press conference: “We put together initially an application form for signing up for participation in the exchanges that was initially about 21 pages long. Immediately everybody sat around the table and said, ‘Well, this is too long. . . . Let’s streamline this thing.’ So we’ve cut what was a 21-page form now down to a form that’s about three pages for an individual, a little more than that for a family.”

In “New, improved, exclusive!” I quoted my daughter Eliana’s NRO post explaining how, Klein and Obama to the contrary notwithstanding, the supposedly new, improved Obamacare application remained essentially the same as the 21-page version. In a Wall Street Journal column this past Friday Grace-Marie Turner takes a look and corroborates Eliana’s findings:

The much-derided 21-page application was for families. It is now down to 11 pages, thanks to a trick. Eight pages in the longer application called for filling in information for four additional family members. The new form cuts these pages but says that if you have children, “make a copy of Step 2: Person 2 (pages 4 and 5) and complete.” The work required of the applicant remains the same.

Turner adds this:

Then there’s a 61-page online application form that is in the draft stage but hasn’t been officially released. This is the drill-down version of the three-page and 11-page printed documents. It has all of the if-then questions the government may need to have answered before it can determine if an applicant is eligible for subsidies.

For example, this online form has nine pages of questions and instructions to determine what a family is and how everyone is related. It announces that it is “governed by complex logic in order to ask the fewest number of questions possible.” Twenty-eight different options for family relationships will be displayed in drop boxes, including first cousin, former spouse and collateral dependent.

The family application (the paper version and the online draft) assumes that someone in the family has a job that offers insurance. There are two pages the applicant must complete on that front.

One question asks: Does your employer “offer a health plan that meets the minimum value standard*?” Following the asterisk is an explanation of how to make that determination: “*An employer-sponsored health plan meets the ‘minimum value standard’ if the plan’s share of the total allowed benefit costs covered by the plan is no less than 60 percent of such costs (Section 36B(c)(2)(C)(ii) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986).”

But back to the new, 11-page form. It contains a strong warning not in the earlier, 21-page draft: “I’m signing this application under penalty of perjury . . . I know that I may be subject to penalties under federal law if I provide false and or untrue information.” That threat may unsettle applicants already not sure they’re correctly answering complicated questions. If they don’t, the consequences could be costly….

Turner concludes on a note that will continue to resonate:

Given the complexity of the questions, many people will need help with the application. So there is a handy Appendix C that allows the applicant to “choose an authorized representative” who can gather information and sign “your application on your behalf.” You need to be very sure you can trust this person with the required confidential information (Social Security numbers, income, etc.). Many of those providing help will be footsoldiers in ObamaCare’s newly formed army of hourly-paid “navigators.”

But this being an Obama administration undertaking, the new application will provide a Web link to “complete a voter registration form.”

The story of the Obamacare application is perfectly representative of the thoroughgoing dishonesty that has permeated the Obama administration’s peddling of Obamacare. It is also perfectly representative of the media’s service as the Obama administration’s handmaiden in peddling the administration’s falsehoods.

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